Rose’s Ruminations: A Mother’s Advice for Managing Meltdowns

January 3, 2019 | Abram's Nation

With all of the sights, sounds and activities, the holiday season puts us on watch for sensory overload. Despite planning ahead and my best tips and tools that I shared in my last blog, sometimes we’re headed toward meltdown. If you’ve been there, you’ll relate to my story…

It’s late fall in Pittsburgh. Snow is still lingering from an early freeze and we’re already ten minutes late. It’s one of those mornings where Abram is especially sensitive, and I can sense a meltdown on the horizon. Right now, I have one focus: get Abram’s shoes on and get going! If only it were that easy. Here comes what I call the “bull warning,” where Abram aggressively stomps on my feet and charges at me. But it’s not me I’m worried about; I’m more concerned for my daughter, Macie. I know that if Abram gets close enough, she will be caught up in the melee. I firmly tell Macie to get out of the way for fear that he will pull her hair or slap her. My mind goes down the rabbit hole, as I can’t help but think about the effects this will have on Macie now and in the future. Will she be injured? Will she think this fear is acceptable and normal? I have to quiet my thoughts and stop myself – one thing at a time. First, get Macie safely to the car. Now, back to Abram. What does he want on his feet? Why is he so upset about his boots? Ten minutes have turned into twenty and I question whether we should even go out at this point. I’ve already had to cancel three times and we’re going to be charged either way. I make up my mind – we’re going! At this point my frustration has sky-rocketed and I can sense Abram has picked up on it. Abram can feel my energy, and this fuels his own ire. He can’t connect his brain and emotions to his ability to verbalize what he wants, especially once he is in this state. These meltdown episodes are almost like a seizure, in the sense that something else is in control of his body and actions. I remind myself that my emotions have a direct effect on his actions. I breathe and visualize peace in the hopes that he finds some self-control, and work to channel my inner love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and gentleness.

And in an instant, we’ve solved the mystery! Abram wants his flip flops, even though it’s damn near winter. As a mom, I need him to wear his boots, but as his mom I need to weigh what’s more important. Flip flops it is – anything to get in the car. I’m drained now, spent and ready to cry. I must hold it back and remind myself, I can have a glass of wine after bedtime at 8 p.m. It’s the little things!

In those moments, when meltdown is imminent and so many thoughts are running through my mind, I try to focus on a few key points:

  1. Control My Emotions.

More often than not, children can sense our frustrations and emotions. They can feel the electricity and negativity, which only serves to escalate the situation.

  1. Visualize My Inner Peace.

When I feel myself becoming overwhelmed and on the brink of snapping, I take a moment to visualize my inner peace. For me, this means visualizing a cool, slow, gentle, crystal blue river running through a canyon – I need a visual that leaves me awestruck and takes my breath away. Abram can see right through me if I’m simply masking my true feelings, so I need to visualize something powerful enough to actually quiet the chaos that I feel. I envision this cool river as the very thing that puts out Abram’s fire.

  1. Weigh What’s Important.

I’ve learned to pick my battles – I’m not going to win every time. I let go of expectations and try to see the bigger picture.

Have you been here before too? What else do you do when meltdown is imminent?